Sunday, February 18, 2018




Answer Line: Ban on eating fish from Monticello? Just rumor, it appears

Feb. 7, 2018 at 11:44 p.m.


QUESTION: I was reading your response to questions about Lake Bob Sandlin and Lake Monticello (Saturday). We've been told not to eat any fish out of Lake Monticello because of the mercury. Now that they're opening the gate between the two lakes, nothing stops the fish from going from one lake to another. Do we eat it, or do we throw it back if we're fishing in Lake Bob Sandlin? What does the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department say?

ANSWER: Actually, the Parks & Wildlife Department has very little to say about this because neither of these bodies of water is under department control. Beyond that, it appears the concerns about fish from Lake Monticello could be just rumor.

As you surely are aware, given that you're asking, Parks & Wildlife does speak highly of Monticello as a fishing lake, ranking it as one of the most popular largemouth bass fisheries in the state. It also ranks Monticello as excellent for catfish and good for sunfish.

But the reservoir is controlled by Vistra, which since the mid-1970s has used its water as coolant for the coal-fired Monticello Power Plant. As you also must be aware, the plant, which was owned by Luminant, originally burned lignite from nearby mines. Later, it changed to cleaner-burning coal delivered by rail from the Powder River Basin of Wyoming. Vistra announced in October that it was closing the plant, which has helped lead us to your question about eating the fish.

Lake Bob Sandlin, on the other hand, is controlled by the Titus County Fresh Water Supply District. And according to Parks & Wildlife, the fishing is pretty good there, too. It's ranked excellent for white bass, good for largemouth, fair for spotted bass, and good for catfish, crappie and sunfish.

Your question arises because Monticello has a dam that allows it to release water into Bob Sandlin, though it was not immediately clear how often that's occurred — until now.

Darrell Grubbs, executive director of the water supply district, previously told me those gates you referred to were opened Jan. 11 to release water from Monticello into Bob Sandlin. Hence, your question about fish safety.

According to a very helpful spokeswoman in the offices of Parks & Wildlife, though, bans on consumption of fish originate from the Texas Department of State Health Services — and that department shows no advisories or bans on consuming fish from either Monticello or Bob Sandlin.

That didn't come as a surprise to Grubbs, who said he's long known people who eat fish from both lakes — and added that he thought such bans are just well-circulated rumors.

"I know people who claim the fish are better eating out of that lake (Monticello), and I know people who claim they're better out of this one (Bob Sandlin). And then I know people who won't eat any out of either one of them," he said Wednesday. "As far as any actual documented warning against eating fish out of this one or that one, I think that's just been rumor."

To see the state health department's list of fish advisories and bans, visit bit.ly/2nRQZeq

Q: Regarding the not real news feature that publishes in the Sunday paper: I never see any of those things published in any of the news sources I read. Where do those headlines appear?

A: Congratulations! If you haven't seen the stories that are highlighted it probably is because you're living right and reading only credible news sources. If only more were like you.

The weekly "Not Real News" feature runs every Sunday in the News-Journal. It was begun last year by The Associated Press in response to the increasing prevalence of bogus stories being spread mainly via social media from fringe and hyper-partisan websites — as opposed to credible sources like the AP, News-Journal and others.

Each week's installment carries this introduction from the AP: "A roundup of some of the most popular but completely untrue headlines of the week. None of these stories is legit, even though they were shared widely on social media."

In other words, the AP is working to debunk the bogus stories that got the most attention from users of social media services such as Facebook, Twitter and others.

— Answer Line appears Thursday and Saturday. Email questions to answerline@news-journal.com, leave a message at (903) 232-7208 or write to P.O. Box 1792, Longview, TX 75606.

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